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State releases report on zipline fatality; KapohoKine responds

MEDIA RELEASE

The state Department of Labor & Industrial Relations Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Division (HIOSH) has completed its investigation of the Sept. 21, 2011 zipline accident that claimed the life of one employee of GoZip LLC (GoZip) and seriously injured another.

The investigation concluded the tower collapsed because the soil in which the ground anchors were installed failed to withstand the load from the tower, cables and rider.

HIOSH concluded GoZip failed to take reasonable precautions to assure that the anchors could support the load.

“For zipline installers, this tragic accident demonstrates the importance of basing design and construction decisions on measurable objective information, for the safety of workers as well as the general public,” DLIR Director Dwight Takamine said. “Unfortunately, this is another workplace fatality that was preventable and we share the sorrow of the family, friends, co-workers and others affected by this incident.”

HIOSH standards require employers do everything reasonable and necessary to protect the life, safety, and health of employees. The owner of GoZip is a member of the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT), an organization that serves the zipline industry, and served on an ACCT committee that wrote standards for installing zip line courses.

The ACCT standards require that guy systems on zipline towers, including ground anchors, be capable of supporting two times the expected load.

HIOSH found GoZip did not use any objective methods to verify that the anchors it installed could support the weight of the towers, cables, and riders or that the guy system could meet the requirements of the ACCT standard.

Citations under contest by the employer include:

* Failure to do everything reasonable and necessary to protect the life, safety, and health of employees by not assuring that the ground anchors and guy cable system at Line 8 could support the loads imposed by the tower, ziplines, and weight of human riders without failure.

* Failure to assure the side rails of an extension ladder used to provide access to the Line 7 landing tower, from which employees crossed a suspended bridge to the Line 8 takeoff tower, extended at least three feet above the edge of the landing surface.

* Failure to ensure employees riding the zipline used helmets.

The accident occurred on the morning of Sept. 21, 2011 while GoZip employees were adjusting and testing cables on Line 8, the longest leg of a zipline course that GoZip was building along the Honolii Stream above Paukaa.

One employee was test riding the zipline and another was on the platform of a tower at the upper end of Line 8 when the ground anchors supporting the tower abruptly pulled out of the ground.

The poles that held the platform came out of the ground and the tower collapsed, causing the cables to sag into the stream valley.

The employee riding the zipline fell approximately 200 feet and suffered fatal injuries. The employee on the platform fell approximately 30 feet and suffered serious injuries.

A professional engineer hired by GoZip to conduct geotechnical testing following the accident concluded the subsoil in which the anchors were installed was Pahala Ash, a fine particulate mineral that has the appearance of normal soil but loses up to 90 percent of its natural strength when disturbed.

The engineering report stated much of the soil along the Hamakua Coast that appears to be red dirt might in fact be Pahala Ash. This raises serious concerns about the stability of structures that rely on ground anchors for support, including zipline towers at other locations on the island.

The state has proposed a $13,500 penalty. GoZip reportedly is contesting the matter and a hearing will be scheduled before the state Labor Relations Board

KapohoKine Adventures comments on HIOSH decision

MEDIA RELEASE

Regarding the report issued by Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Division on the death at a Hawaii Island zipline last year, Tony DeLellis of KapohoKine Adventures issued the following:

“It doesn’t change the tragic loss of a human life,” DeLellis said, “and it troubles us that more rigid standards weren’t applied to these lines by the builder (Experiential Resources, Inc. and GoZip LLC).”

“Lava Hotline’s decision to independently evaluate the course was well founded,” DeLellis said.

Following the accident last fall, which caused the death of an employee of the zipline builder who was testing the line, the operator for the lines, Lava Hotline, hired independent engineers to evaluate the course.

“That choice was clearly a sound one,” DeLellis said.

The entire course was redesigned and is being rebuilt by an accredited zipline builder. Platforms are being rebuilt, supports are being reinforced and every anchor has been replaced and is undergoing intensive testing.

KapohoKine, a Hilo-based adventure tours company, booked zipline excursions through Lava Hotline.

KapohoKine suspended zipline tours after the incident, awaiting full evalutation of integrity of the lines.

— Find out more:
www.kapohokine.com

One Response to “State releases report on zipline fatality; KapohoKine responds”

  1. Steve says:

    “HIOSH concluded GoZip failed to take reasonable precautions to assure that the anchors could support the load.” Sounds like a lawsuit in the making!

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